Ireland is on the eve of the Great Hunger
The Promised Land of New York is a dangerous place
Billy Gogan’s father has just died in an English prison in Dublin, and 15-year-old Billy has been cast from cousin Séamas’s house and forced to make his way to America. Aboard a ramshackle old ship, Billy befriends a destitute Irish peasant named Máire and her daughter Fíona, and together they endure a harsh and perilous passage to America’s greatest city. When they finally reach New York, they get separated as they debark, and Billy searches tirelessly for them in the brutal Five Points, the city’s greatest slum, ground zero in the collision of Americans, ex-slaves, and Irish refugees.
“Higgins is a bare-knuckled storyteller. In this brawny novel, he transports us to the hardscrabble lives of mid-1800s New York Irish immigrants. Though each day brings a new brawl for survival, under Higgins’s deft touch, the heartbeat of tenderness, love, and even racial enlightenment pulses through ‘Gotham’s’ brutal veins.” —Gary Buslik, author of A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean, and Professor of English, University of Illinois, Chicago